15 October 2021

Naked and Silly

Art Model, @Kayci.Lee, ©2016 Terrell Neasley

“It's okay to be absurd, ridiculous, and downright irrational at times; silliness is sweet syrup that helps us swallow the bitter pills of life.”


I'm in a mood, I guess. I could use a little bit of silliness. Maybe you can, too. I've been here in Vietnam for 20 months. Lockdowns have just been curtailed and things are beginning to get back to normal again... at least here in Hanoi in the north of Vietnam. To the south, Ho Chi Minh City is getting better, but they were the worst hit with Covid-19. 

Let me just say that Vietnam has managed this pandemic in exemplary fashion. The Delta variant came along at the end of May and changed everything. For more than a year, Vietnam held covid in check. Delta was another story. We went from about 3,300 total cases at the beginning of July to 850,000 today. In hardly 3 months deaths went from 35 to 21,000. Y'all can say what you want, but I'm watching the measures they take to curtail this virus and their response to this pandemic been extraordinary, compared to most places in the world. It took 3 months but they even got control of Delta. Vaccines finally began rolling out and numbers have plummeted. Good government and good citizens working together and the rest of the world should take notes. 

Art Model, Leslie ©2013 Terrell Neasley

Now, back to my topic...

As things lessen up here, it's hard not to think about going home. As I said, it's already been 20 months. However, this is something I already anticipated. I expected to be gone two years on this leg of my trip. What I didn't expect was being in the same place. Had I stuck to my original plans, I'd be in Australia now, getting ready to make my way to the Islands of the South Pacific. namely Fiji, Tonga, French Polynesia, and The Cook Islands. Quite possibly, my pining for new gear is a result of previous mental programming. I had anticipated upgrading my gear at the two year mark after returning to the US again! 

Now, that's not likely to happen, just yet, but my subconscious obviously doesn't know that. And the camera I want is not even out yet. I'm pretty sure, I'm sticking with Sony gear. I currently rock the Sony a7RII. The Sony a7RV should be out sooner or later and I'm already certain I want it. It had BETTER have a fully articulating rear LCD screen! I don't know if the thing will be 100MP or not. It could be 61MP, like the a7RIV. 

Art Model, Panda © 2011 Terrell Neasley

As I have mentioned before, I have to upgrade both my cameras if I do this. I refuse to carry two different battery types and all the newer systems have Sony's larger batteries (NP-FZ100) in them. My current second camera is the a6500. I love having a crop system to complement my main full-frame body. I've done that for years, every since I was with Canon with my Canon 5DMkII and the 7D. Therefore, I'll have to option to upgrade my crop to the latest one... whatever that will be by the time I get back. Likely a6700.

OR, I could go full-frame for the second camera which in this case, it would be the a7SIII, (which already has a fully-articulating rear LCD screen). Choices, choices. Both those cameras will be about $3500 each. Dang! I'm inclined to have the crop system due to the fact that it gives my lenses some added range. They get magnified by a factor of 1.5 times. That's a great complement, to me. In doing so, I'll have to get a slew of extra batteries, but the each camera uses the same one. In addition to that, I'll need all new, fresh memory cards. Either way, Sony a7SIII or a6700... which also isn't even out yet.

Art Model, Justine ©2015  Terrell Neasley

What else, beyond that? Oh yeah... one more thing. I gotta have that Tamron 35-150mm f/2-2.8 Di III VXD. I've been shooting prime lense during this whole trip. Now I think I MUST have some range in my arsenal. Currently, I shoot with a 35mm and a 55. That's it. I left my 90mm Macro stateside. I sold my Sigma 24 1.4 and picked up the Tamron 35 2.8 macro. I lost speed, but regained macro capability. But this new Tamron is right up my alley in terms of range. It's not huge, but it's also giving me 150mm at f/2.8. On a crop sensor, that 150 turns into a 225mm, (still at 2.8)!

Whenever I do return to the US, I won't be there long. I'm still on this mission! I may return to Vietnam again or continue on where ever they'll let me come visit. Cambodia, Thailand... it all depends on several factors. But if I get my way... dang. I'm gonna come right back here. I'm not done with Vietnam!

Art Model, Chloe Ann ©2017 Terrell Neasley



Art Model, @Kayci.Lee, ©2018 Terrell Neasley


26 August 2021

All-Time Best Photograph Ever... Period

 

Yep, that's me meeting Dave Rudin for the first time and showing him my portfolio prints at the Original Pancake House in Las Vegas, NV (before it burned down). 

Okay, I've been meaning to do this post for years. I get asked about it often enough and will mention it a few times, but I've never explained myself. Just to set the stage, there are no quantifiable factors that determine the best photograph or even best photographer. You can assess whether or not a photograph or photographer is good using photographic critique, but even there you can still get stuck in the quagmire of opinion, which can lead to interesting debate hopefully. I think it's a good thing to talk about photography and that is what I will do here. I'm going to talk photo.

In an attempt to begin, we must battle with the concept of "BEST". The notion of GREAT is more easily argued, but BEST? What makes it the best? How do you factor out all the great photos by iconic photographers made from as far back as the first photo ever taken? There are wartime images by Nick Ut or Mathew Brady that are certainly iconic once in a lifetime images. Dorothea Lang showed us the disparity of the Great Depression and the hardships Americans faced and endured. Or maybe we can look to celebrity or sports figures with Neil Leifer's iconic photo of Ali standing over Liston. 

Is Amos Nachoum's "Facing Reality" the best wildlife image ever? Or is it this one by Henley Spiers "Between Two Worlds"? How do you tell? Is it being in the right place at the right time? Is it a matter of creativity? Waiting for your shot like a sniper? It can be any and all of these. But the one that I'm calling the best All-Time was a created shot. It was a deliberate choice of model, location, camera, style of edit... everything.

All-Time Best Photograph Ever made 

And yes. I confess. Dave Rudin is a friend. Is there some bias here? Maybe, but I'm going to say no. I have lots of friends who are photogs and I knew this shot was my fave all-time before I ever met Dave Rudin. And now, I'm going to break it down why:

It is a Nude

I had a photography professor teach me that I should shoot what I love. I decided two things. One is that there is no other thing on earth more beautiful to photograph than the nude form of a woman, (particularly if it's the one you love, I think). There is no sun to rise or set, no flower to bloom, and no puppy cute enough to distract me from God's gift to the world of the nude female. And second, I heard a quote at some point that said something to the effect of... that there is no photo to exist whereby it can't be improved with the addition of a nude.To me that makes the nude like bacon. Add it to anything and it becomes great. I have yet to try that with ice cream, yet, but I can imagine. (Bacon... not the nude). So there you go. That factors out any photo that doesn't have a nude model.

It is Technically Superior

This is the least of my qualifiers just because most people can set their cameras to auto-everything and come out with good sharpness and exposure. Nonetheless, it's still an important one as many photogs still fail at this despite advanced camera features and automatic functions. What happens if your subject is moving? The camera doesn't know that. It will give you a correct exposure for any given light, not the stillness of your subject. What happens if your subject is in two extremes of light and darkness, set in stark shadow, but you also need the surrounding sunlit landscape. 

It is Compositionally Sound

You can use rule of thirds, The Golden Spiral, or Triangles. It simply fits! Composition makes or breaks an image. It naturally defines compelling and composed images that are unconsciously aesthetically pleasing to the eye. You may not realize it, but your eye naturally follows lines and you are more engaged in images with leading lines, good geometry, shape, patterns, and symmetry. This image is anchored by the hole in the rock, which supports the model's weight and forces the her body to shape around it in intriguing and interesting ways.  

Spiral follows curvature of the model and then tightens at the hole in the rock which is the anchor point of the whole shot.

Model is set diagonally across the grid. Head takes upper right quadrant. Torso occupies the middle, and hips/legs take the lower left quadrants. 

The model's shape follows the height leg of each right triangle, intersecting the base at the hand and almost right on the hip.

Diagonals lines parallel the torso and arm while the other two lines dissect the nipples and hips. 

It is built by Dave Rudin

This photograph is made entirely and masterfully by a skilled artist. He selected his model,the  time and location, the specific rock "prop" within that location, his camera/focal length, and finally his edit.All these were deliberate choices made by the photographer. Carlotta Champagne is one of the most prolific models in the business with a million plus followers in IG. Her attitude, shape, and pose lends itself to this composition in a way that helps elevate it to greatness. Another model may not have been able to pull this off. Her head angle and eyes reflect an attitude that Dave may not have asked for, but being a professional model, this is what she brings to the table. Think of your all-time favorite movie. Now imagine Frodo cast with Eric Stolz and Gandalf played by Gene Wilder. See what I mean? @carlottachampagne was perfectly casted.

I don't know, or at least don't recall, if Dave framed her like this in camera or cropped her in post. I have no idea what her feet are doing, but I am not missing them. I don't even care. The crop is perfect. The hole in the rock looks almost like a fulcrum with almost tangent levers in two positions. One can level out across the photo from left to right, whereas the other lays down diagonally and I like it. It reinforces the importance of that hole, because outside of it and the model, there is nothing else. This is a minimalistic composition as almost half the diagonal is empty space (the wall). I can also appreciate not cropping away all of that upper wall depression in the right. Dave photographed what was there instead of trying to make it too perfect. Perfection is reality.

Carlotta Champagne on Model Mayhem

I will also add that this image was shot using film. Dave is a traditionalist when it comes to his artwork. He did this shot a year before we met. He contacted me not long after I started this blog in 2007 and asked me to lunch since he would be in Las Vegas, visiting from Brooklyn. I've always appreciated that. So yes, there may be some bias that I don't see, but I'm telling you... this is the best photograph that I have ever seen. Period. Hands down. Drop the mic. Turn out the lights and go home. This debate is over. Check out my original blog post below

A Morning with Dave Rudin 

16 September 2007

11 August 2021

Use a New Location to Help You Regain the Passion!

 

Interesting Locations - Art Model, Susan

Sometimes you just have to get off your ass and go. I'm still harping on the "Regaining the Passion" that I started earlier with  "Why You Should Shoot for Yourself More Often". I followed that with an article on Flash and then again with Ambient Light as some easy alternatives to help you blow on those embers that could ignite your photo passions again. LOCATION is what I wanna cover at the moment. Why? Cuz its easy. You simply get your ass up out of the house and go someplace with the explicit and direct intent to photograph something.

Urban
Sometimes people will tell you to start in your own backyard. Nah. Not good enough. You are still too comfortable in your own house, yard, or neighborhood. I don't see that as "blowing on any embers". To fan the flame, you have to go beyond, but you still need a place to start. Downtown is okay as a beginning point if you like. I lived 12 years or so in Las Vegas, so downtown is the Las Vegas Strip. Or so you might believe! Actually, downtown is FREMONT STREET! It's a little different but yet similar to the Strip. A different kind of folk walk those streets and a many of characters will present themselves for your photographic pleasure.

But there are still other urban areas in Vegas and you have them where you live too. Well, unless you're living out in the sticks, in which case you might have a further drive than most. Street Photography can be the thing you need to rejuvenate and get a fresh start in photo again. Look up some examples of popular street photo work. Not to necessarily copy or emulate, but rather to just see what the possibilities are. Walk around first before you even pull your camera out. Observe. Listen. Smell. See the potential scenes that lie before you. In the Army, as we'd begin our patrols, we would stop a few hundred meters in, take a knee and become familiar with the sights, sound, and smells, of the environment we were about to immerse ourselves in. We called it SLLS, or sills. It's the same thing here. In this case, it can help you see and anticipate events that might be developing and thus better prepare you to capture that decisive moment. This can make the difference between THAT shot and JUST ANY OLD shot.


You can pick a theme to help you focus and look for something. Shooting the homeless has been very popular, but I find that to be a tough one sometimes, personally. Photography fundamentals and principles still apply. Look for and utilize shadows, repetitious and geometric shapes, reflections (in windows or puddles), or maybe practice a theme of minimalism. You can also change your perspective a little. Everything doesn't have to be done from an eye level! Get down! I mean it. Get low to the ground and see the world how a dog might view it. Or change it up and shoot from above and get a bird's eye view of things. Just do something differently or unexpected, so things don't get predictable or boring. You may do photo for yourself, but you still want others to see it. Show them something fresh.

Art Model, Mary 


Out and About in Nature

I can dig some urban, but now we're getting into my scene! The woods! The desert! The mountains! As well as the BEACH! Natural surroundings appeal to me most. Especially spots where I have to get off the beaten path a bit. Over the last three years, my ongoing travels have taken me through Central/South America and now Vietnam. Seeing new things in God's creation can heat up the coldest of passions and make it blaze. I've been to spots that make you want to put down the camera and just keep that vision all to yourself. If you can, bring a friend along whose company you enjoy OR somebody who knows the area and can be a guide of sorts. It's not always fun to get lost ( though sometimes it can be!). I can't tell you how many people I've taken out into the boonies... who have lived nearby all their lives... and yet had never previously seen the beauties that Red Rock has to offer. Or Lake MeadValley of Fire, or either of the hot springs near Hoover Dam at Goldstrike and Arizona. All these areas are within a hour of Las Vegas.

Art Model, Mary

You'll have to find out what appeals to you in these natural settings. For me, I can say a good, unique landscape vista is what I find most captivating. On the other hand, you may be more interested in the wildlife or birds. Photographing big horn sheep will be vastly different than photographing hummingbirds or egrets, mainly in the lens choices. You'll need some telephoto action, but you don't have to have as fast of a lens as you might with hummingbirds. Flowers are highly popular to shoot. Again, lens choices come into play. If you like to shoot a field of wildflowers, a normal zoom or better yet a wide-angle lens would work. However if you're wanting to get close enough to depict the petals and stamen of the Angel Trumpet flower, then a macro lens is your best business. You may also need to be on a tripod in many cases using a remote switch/cable release.

Go Out at Night

Art Model, Anne

Whatever you do when you are out in nature, do it again only this time, after dark! Venture out to the same place and see what adventurous landscape shots you can find. If you have a model, try some unique lighting and poses with the stars in the background. Okay, so it's a bit more work. You'll need a tripod and likely a source of light, but that can be a torch, headlamp, or the moon! An 8-second exposure will give you good illumination on a decent full moon. You'll need longer if all you have are stars. But still... that can equate to some excellent landscape work. Practice your Milky Way shots, or maybe time-lapses. 

Art Model, Covenant

Make sure you consider the area you visit. Safety first! Have a friend with you or at least let someone know where you are going. Try camping in a state or national park near you. I didn't grow up visiting many national parks, but I did explore the woods around my house as well as some much further away. Read up on the area you wish to visit and educate yourself about the fauna and flora that could pose a danger. Be conscious of the weather! Avoid areas and seasons that are prone to flash floods. Carry the appropriate gear, water, and food you need to keep you warm, dry, safe, and comfortable.

Book a Flight

Art Model, Trixie

You're not gonna do photo without spending money. So either come to terms with that notion or take up treasure hunting with a metal detector on the beach. Some people find that very soothing and quite rewarding. Ain't no shame in that. Photo may not be the thing for you. Me...? I just want you to be happy. Get a camera, take some pics. If you find that it's not for you, take up dance lessons. But my purpose is to holla at you about photo, so that's what I'm about. It's all about choices and what you choose to prioritize. You can make getting that new car stereo for $600 your priority if you so choose. You can also get a new wide-angle lens for your crop-sensor camera for even less than that. 

Granted, you have to do this with a pandemic in mind, so do what's best for you. Book at trip to El Salvador for that same $600, and forgo the car stereo. I'm not asking you to go somewhere you can drive to. I want you to book a flight somewhere at that you've never been, preferably out of the country and do it specifically to shoot photos! Get a passport and go! If you can't leave the country, pick a spot within YOUR country that you've never been to that is 100% unlike where you are now. Fly there with the resolved intent of shooting. Whichever will be the more rewarding experience... that's what I want you to go for. Now get to it. You can do this.

Art Model, Emma


20 July 2021

Use Artificial Light to Help You Regain the Passion

Art Model, Jenny Anne Rose ©2019 Terrell Neasley
Window light coming in from the front
 

“Wherever there is light, one can photograph.”
~ Alfred Stieglitz

Of course, daylight from the sun is a type of natural light. Same as light coming from the moon, stars, a candle, fireplace, or fireflies. Ambient light is the opposite of flash and is a constant light that stays on continuously for a time. It might also be referred to as Available Light. Artificial ambient light can be the incandescent bulbs that light your house or the light that automatically comes on to illuminate your the interior of your fridge when you open it. The natural light photogs can get a little something out of this. Anyone can take a photo in the daylight when all the settings are done in either Full Auto or "P"-mode. Just let the camera do all the work and you're good to go. However, to bring back that passion, try this: work with ambient light in the darker settings and use any available light that you can come up with. I've used light from a cell phone held close to a model's face. I've used the moon on a 8 second exposure.

Art Model, Jenny Anne Rose ©2019 Terrell Neasley

But here are a few things you're gonna need in order to get busy with this concept. In the last post, I set you up with flash and triggers for under $200. In this case, I'm gonna stay in that same neighborhood. I'll begin with a good tripod. I've worked with several new and aspiring photogs who make a dubious mistake in my opinion. And when I say, "in my opinion", it's just that. I'm not quoting law and regulations. It's my perspective that when I see someone spend a grand or more on a good camera and then shop for a $25 tripod, I'm just gonna say no. When I worked at B&C Camera, usually the cheapest I get them out of the door with is a $160 Promaster system that will take care of their support and stabilization needs. You simply don't trust a thousand dollars on twenty dollar legs. Just don't do it.

Art Model, Jenny Anne Rose ©2019 Terrell Neasley
Strip of light coming through window light from the front

I use Promaster tripods myself! I travel the world with a smaller, lightweight carbon fiber system that handles all my needs. Its strong and more compact to travel with. Back home in the U.S., I use a bigger, but medium sized Manfrotto 190CXPRO4 Tripod with Ball Head Q2 carbon fiber unit that is the most beautiful system out there. Aesthetics usually don't count, but I fell in love with this thing a few years back and it's gorgeous as well as strong. Good sturdy legs are key. Next is having a ball head that can support the weight of your camera when it's tilted vertical. I like mine to be extra strong in this regard. When a camera is tilted vertically, it's actually off of the tripod's center of gravity. I never use the extended neck on these tripods for that very reason, as sometimes the vertical perspective is necessary.

"What makes photography a strange invention is that its primary raw materials are light and time."
~ John Berger

You can definitely pick up a used tripod system somewhere. There are super easy to test out and confirm it's serviceability prior to you trusting it with your camera out in the field. If you can get a good one for cheap, go for it. I like mine new and simply won't go for a used support system. That's just me. Every manufacturer will make tripods of various qualities, sizes, max weights, and different price points. Carbon fiber will usually run you double what an aluminum will cost. I like carbon fiber a lot. Find what suits you best in the budget you choose.


Art Model, Jenny Anne Rose ©2019 Terrell Neasley
Early morning eight-second exposure

The next most important item is going to be a cable release or remote shutter release system that plugs into your camera and allows you to actuate the shutter release without having to touch the camera itself and thus causing camera shake. Promaster makes several for just about every camera system and when I do my one-on-one trainings, I'll generally have my students pick up one for $20 to $30, depending on what cameras system they have.

Next all you need is a still subject and the proficiency to shoot them giving the lighting challenges and/or low light limitations of your camera. If you have any of the Sony A7S models, then you don't really have any camera low light limitations. If you're working with a camera with ISO deficiencies, then yes, you'll have to work within that. But generally speaking, you'll be on a tripod, so ISO 100 will usually suffice. I say generally, because if you're doing astro work, then max ISO is where you'll be. In either case doing a portrait in single-sourced low light can be both fun and challenging, but it's sure to pay off with some good work.

Art Model, Jenny Anne Rose ©2019 Terrell Neasley
Outdoor lamp post shining in through side window

You can easily get started by using the obvious sources of light around you. The lamp on your light stand; the light coming off the TV or computer monitor, an overhead patio light. Get creative with it. Try using the refrigerator light, a match, a headlamp, a night light. You can even play with different LED lights you might find in the toy section or automotive departments. Experiment! That's the main aim here. Experimentation and just play. Use a lowest ISO setting on your camera unless you are NOT using a tripod. In which case you want to use the lowest ISO you can get away with. Target an ISO that will allow for a shutter speed of at least 1/60th of a second, but cheat a little if you can. Go to 1/30th or even 1/15th and get some interesting blur. Have your model be as still as possible, but only move her head from one side to the other with a 2 second shutter. If you are not using a model and are doing night time/low light landscape, well, look to see if the wind is blowing the trees or tall grass and let that determine what your shutter should be. Just go out there and shoot and see what happens. Have some fun with this!


Art Model, Jenny Anne Rose ©2019 Terrell Neasley

10 July 2021

Use Flash to Help You Regain the Passion!

 

"In photography there are no shadows that cannot be illuminated."
~ August Sander

Art Model, @Kayci.Lee, ©2015 Terrell Neasley
Studio Flash, Paul C. Buff Einstein 640 with 6' Octobox

In many of my posts, I mentioned one way to expand your efforts to get excited about photo again was to start using flash in your work. Now, granted... this post won't be necessarily for everybody. Some of you togs already have a great grip on this thing and it's not your weakness by any stretch of the imagination. If that's the case, then just enjoy the pictures. However, if you do NOT have an acute aptitude for artificial light, namely flash lighting kits, then let's start small and follow me a little ways down the rabbit hole. Just bare in mind, this is not a comprehensive blog post on flash. There is too much to get into for a few paragraphs. For now, let it lead you to further research, but if you have questions, pop them into the comments.

Art Model, @Kayci.Lee, ©2015 Terrell Neasley
Studio Flash, Paul C. Buff Einstein 640 with 6' Strip Box

First things first. Can't be scared of light! As I have said before, most photog won't use it cuz they're scared of it. Ignorance of a thing is not a reason to fear a thing. Also, light is cheap. Yes, you can go pick up the high end flash units by Sony, Nikon, or Canon and pay skyward of $600 for a speedlight flash gun. If that is not a problem for you, then by all means, go for it. It will serve you well. If you need to start out on a budget, consider finding used gear like the Canon 430EX II or the Nikon SB-700 for your run and gun, on the go needs. I STILL use the Canon 430EX II that I bought used, even though I shoot Sony! I never shoot with the flash sitting on the camera, preferring instead to use flash triggers like I will point out in a minute. I have to travel small and make due with as little gear as I can get away with while I am traveling. You can find used these flashes give you lots of latitude and features that eliminate most every possible excuse you may have. You won't outgrow them and they will probably wear out from use long before they become obsolete.

There are also more options available to you. First, you can rent for a weekend for $20 bucks. Second, you can go off-brand with several makers. Check out Godox brands that have speedlight flash units for $100 to $200. You can pick these up for your specific camera brand, such as a Godox VING V860IIC which is one version made specifically for shooting TTL for Canon cameras (Notice the "C" at the end of the model name). TTL means Through The Lens, but for now just think of it as automatic mode. If your camera is in automatic AND you have it ON the camera, it communicates with the camera and sets the flash power for you. However, I strongly advise to learn manual control and practice shooting OFF-CAMERA! Be sure to get the version that is made for your camera brand.

Art Model, @Kayci.Lee, ©2015 Terrell Neasley
Studio Flash, Paul C. Buff Einstein 640 with 6' Octobox

And if you want to shoot with the flash OFF the camera, take a look at the wireless transmitter/receiver systems. It uses a radio signal that isn't so easily obstructed by a wall, for instance, if your flash sits around the corner. Easy-Peasy! This gives you the ability place your flash unit anywhere you need it besides just sitting on top of the camera. Pick up a light stand or clamps for something to mount the flash on. I'll also add in there to pick up an umbrella holder so the flash can be mounted on something that can allow it to bend and point in any direction. 

On another quick note, studio light kits are the best! I shoot with them more than speedlights when I am not traveling. These kits usually come with a two light set-up and will often include some type of modifier... possibly an umbrella or softbox. I implore you to take a look at them if they suit what you do.

"Essentially what photography is is life lit up."
~ Sam Abell

I could throw in one more accessory, which is a flash diffuser of some kind. Is it necessary? Yeah, kinda. I don't really use a flash without something diffusing the light a bit, but I've seen plenty. It's kind of like a saddle on a horse. You don't HAVE to use one, but if you don't, it's gonna be a hard ride. Okay, screw it... pick up an umbrella while you're at the camera shop. Now, back to my main thing. For about $200 you can practice and get a better grip on flash and really step up your work. Flash is cool because it's lightweight and portable. All you need is some double-A's and you're off and running. Keep in mind. Flash isn't just used for night time shots! The question I get most often is, "Why would you use flash during the day?" Simple... Cuz the sun can make harsh shadows. Using flash as some fill light is an excellent solution. Now your model doesn't have to squint because the sun is in her/his eyes. And you can face the model away from the sun without their faces going into shadow. Oh yeah. Try exposing for that beautiful sunset AND your model without using flash and you'd better be good at composite work. Flash isn't just for studio. I take it with me just about everywhere.

Art Model, @Kayci.Lee, ©2017 Terrell Neasley
Outdoor using Speedlight flash units with radio triggers

Do yourself a huge favor and just run through the manual. It may look thick but that's just cuz it's also in several different languages. Know how to turn it on and set power levels for starters and then go shoot. I'm not often shooting at 1/1, which is the full power setting. I'm usually at 1/8th power or below. Set the flash up about 45 degrees left or right of your subject. Now chances are, you'll have to manually adjust the power settings, but even with that, once you get it within a tolerable range, you can adjust your aperture to control the flash. Big Tip: Shutter Speed controls ambient/constant light (daylight or lighting that stays on). Aperture controls Flash. Opening up the aperture increases the flash's intensity, while closing down does the opposite. So within a certain range of exposure, you can use the aperture settings (shooting in Manual or Aperture Priority Mode) to control the flash output.

Play with this in varying degrees of light as well in different locations. Try out some studio light kits! Add on a softbox with it. Add in more lights... such as one mounted BEHIND the subject! Trust me. It will bring the fun back. If you're going to be in the Las Vegas area, check out B&C Camera at 4511 West Sahara, open every day from 9 am to 7 pm, except for Sunday hours which are 11 am to 5:30 pm. I used to work there. It's a beautiful store with lots of knowledgeable people who can get you fixed up. Tell them I said hello for me!

Art Model, @Kayci.Lee, ©2015 Terrell Neasley
Studio Flash, Paul C. Buff Einstein 640 with 6' Octobox


30 June 2021

Why You Should Shoot for Yourself More Often

 

Art Model, Melissa ©2008 Terrell Neasley

"The man who has no imagination has no wings."
~Muhammad Ali

One of the long-standing principles to personal financial stability and wealth creation is the notion of "Paying Yourself First." I like it. It basically speaks to saving money or putting some aside for retirement before you even pay bills or anything else and in doing so, the rest of your business will take care of itself. Developing the habit of paying yourself first is a good discipline that also builds into it the habit of being responsible and taking of everything else as well. Let me give you three good reasons to shoot for yourself, first.

Cultivate the Imagination

I don't think you will ever be as good as what you can be when you create using the resources of your own imagination. I didn't say you wouldn't make as much money. It's easy to jump on the bandwagon and follow the latest trends in photography. You can make money or get LIKES that way, for sure. A line of potential clients are readily at your door asking you do to something they've seen somebody else do because it looks cool. 

The latent possibilities that will net you the greatest fulfillment however will be in those original concepts that you derive from your own imagination. These are the culmination of all your years of training and preparation that come together to mix something new in your reservoir of ideas. My clients have been all the more satisfied when I presented them with alternatives for original content and concepts that better fit their ideals. The more you do it, the better you will be at achieving this goal. Cultivate your imagination. 

Art Model, Melissa ©2009 Terrell Neasley

Experimentation

Time is always of the essence it seems. You get a client gig and the expectation is to produce and render those results now. When do you ever have time to experiment, try new things, or sometimes shoot just to see what happens? You become stagnant when all you do is the same old, same old. You never know where you will find your new treasure. Venture out into new areas and genres of photo and just see what you can do. This doesn't mean you have to jump into subject matter you hate...just something different. If you don't like shooting sports, or fashion, then don't. But you can rent a new lens and play with some macro work. Find a friend who can borrow a light modifier from and play with it in new ways that maybe it was never intended for. Or better yet, see if you can create your OWN lighting. I made my own light wand with red and white light using cathode ray tubes and a battery pack, all attached to a monopod.

These are things you can bring back to the table when you are in negotiations with a client and he or she's looking for that new "fresh" look! That thing that no one else has. Something they've never seen before. But more importantly, think about the sense of fulfillment that you'll garner when you surprise even yourself by discovering that new thing almost by accident. Odds are, you will not make these discoveries shooting for someone else. No one can push your imagination like YOU can. Slow things down by limiting yourself to 50 shots or less. Shoot from a single focal length like a 50mm prime. Change your angles and shoot from either a high or low perspective. Regardless, change it up. Work outside the norm and the comfortable. Experiment!

Art Model, Melissa ©2009 Terrell Neasley


"I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free."
~Michelangelo

Counter the Effects of Burnout

Don't lie to yourself. You get tired of working for someone else, sometimes don't you. Ever want to just escape photography all together... even just for a little while. Personally, I don't understand it but I know in other jobs I've had, sometimes you just need a break. In photo, that should never happen but I can see how it might come to pass. You spend all your time shooting for others that you simply get burned out. This is less likely to come about if you spend sufficient amount of time shooting for yourself. Make your own work the priority over shooting for someone else. Pay yourself first. Shoot for yourself first. Much like they tell you in the airline safety message, in the event of a decrease in cabin pressure, put your own mask on first BEFORE you help someone else.

Art Model, Melissa posing for figure drawing session ©2009 Terrell Neasley

Keep yourself healthy and in good shape and do the same for your photographic mind. Keep it sharp and exercised with new activities and fresh ideas. You, therein serve yourself AND your clients by staying fresh. You'll definitely be able to see better when your mind is renewed on a continuous basis. Mental fatigue is murder to the mind of a creative. Stave off that fatigue by doing your own projects. I could as easily add a fourth good reason: PROFITS! The better you get a feel for the industry, your trade, and your capabilities the better you know how to create your own projects and then market them via social media to your own benefit. This can be work that you eventually sell, or use it as an opportunity to showcase your wares. Either way, you can make money if that is something that is important to you. In any case your limits are self-imposed. Lack of gear does not create a ceiling for you. Its not the absence of promotion of exposure that shackle your ability to grow. You are bound to this world today by gravity, but it is your imagination that allows you to reach escape velocity and venture to the stars.





20 June 2021

Photographers! Are You Doing What You Love?

 

Art Model, @Athena.Demos (IG), ©2019 Terrell Neasley

“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.” 
― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations


I've been in this game for a while now, being serious about photography since 2005. At any given time, it's easy to get bored, burned out, or just simply tired of a profession, industry, or business of any sort. Its normal. Things can stagnate at any time. Monotony often sets in and you have to look for a little change in routine or maybe take a break to step away from your profession. In the Armed Services, we were all encouraged to take LEAVE time to blow off steam. Getting burned out could cause lapses in inspections of equipment or result in attention to detail issues.

I can't say this has been the case with me in photography. I am just as excited about it now as when I saw my first print come to life as it sat in a fresh batch of Kodak D-76 developer. And that was something in and of itself that you just couldn't get tired of. It was like magic. After careful exposure, and burning and dodging in a darkroom, a blank sheet of Ilford Fiber-based Variable Contrast Multigrade IV paper, suddenly came to live with the image you previously captured on film. I'll confess, though. I had my doubts when I switched to digital in 2007. I was a film purist because I felt digital took out the craftsmanship in which I made that print with my hands, manipulating light and shadow to make the final print. Photoshop seemed too much bits and bytes, and not enough of a man-made feel. I got over that the more I realized, its not so much the hands, but more the mind that creates and manipulates the light and shadow.

Art Model, @Athena.Demos (IG), ©2019 Terrell Neasley

I can't say its like this for every photographer you meet. I have met quite a few who's camera is more of a job than a creative outlet. They work, earn money, and that's it. No personal projects, just take the money and put the camera down till its time to earn money again. I don't begrudge them. That's their choice. As for me, I think I am still in love with photography for a few reasons, and you can do this, too!

1. Shoot What You Love

I shoot what I like to shoot. You gotta pay me a lot of money to make me shoot something I don't really want to shoot. I learned that when I first arrived to Vegas and acquired my first gig. It was for a furniture business in the World Market Center in Vegas for showroom ads. Shooting a white couch under 3 different kinds of light on the showcase floor sucked.  Granted, I still didn't know near as much as I do now, but I did it for the money. HATED IT! I learned that early on and it was a blessing. Shoot what you love.

2. Study Your Ass Off

I have an inherent desire to be good at whatever I spend the most time in. I study my ass off in most anything I want to know about. But for something I absolutely love, my study habits kick into overdrive. Its not always in a desire to be better. Most times, its because I have something on my brain that I want to create and have to learn how to do it. So I am in a constant state of learning to improve and hone my craft. Additionally, I don't stay on the same thing for too long. One day my thing may be landscape. Another day, its portraits. And then I want to kick it up and do extended exposure. 

The better you get, the more people you attract. I get other photographers who ask me questions about settings or maybe how to shoot something. I hated not being able to answer questions! If I didn't know, I'd soon find out. What's that thick black line that goes all the way across the bottom of your picture? Its a result of using a shutter speed high than the sync speed of your camera when using flash. How do I know that? I didn't want to be afraid of using artificial light, so I studied flash. So study your ass off.

Art Model, @Athena.Demos (IG), ©2019 Terrell Neasley

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” 
― W.B. Yeats


3. Don't Become an Island

I associate with a other photographers and learn from mentors. I started the very first Meetup.com photography group in Las Vegas. It was the Las Vegas Art Models Group mainly for helping photographers learn to work with the nude model as well as helping nude models get hired by photographers. I co-founded a more mainstream photography group, the Las Vegas Photographic Society made for photographers to help them network and grow their craft. Over the years, I developed a good reputation from sharing my knowledge, but also from increasing my knowledge with mentors, workshops, and online expertsSo don't become an island.

4. Don't Limit Yourself to the Gear You Know and Learn From Other Great Talent

I started working in a camera shop. B&C Camera, owned by my good friend and accomplished photographer Joe Dumic. He bought this camera shop when every other one was failing. He turned it around and this store not only survives, but thrives. He's enjoying his third evolution of the store. Joe has helped me immensely in my own business operations. However working in a camera store gave me the ability to tap into a knowledge base you won't find anywhere else. I was there only two days a week, but I got to learn about every new camera system that came out. 

Technology is changing all the time. Most industries can't say that. A hammer hasn't changed much since its invention. Devices capturing still images or video, and all the accessories that complement are improved every day. I tried out many of those new systems and got help from the best gurus from Canon, Nikon, Sony, Panasonic, Leica, and also GoPro, DJI, and Zhiyun-Tech. Anther great aspect is the customers I meet. I had to stay on my toes to help those beginner photographers get the right camera, fix their problems, and learn about studio gear and lighting set-ups. But I also meet professional people coming in to get gear as well. So don't limit your universe to just the gear you know. And surround yourself with and learn from other great talent.

Art Model, @Athena.Demos (IG), ©2019 Terrell Neasley

5. Learn to Play and Don't Be Afraid to Fail

I like to experiment and take chances. I know that every endeavor I take won't pan out. I'm okay with that. Sometimes I lose money. Sometimes, all my efforts are wasted; but are they really? Every time I do something that doesn't go as planned, its really a learning experience. I learn how to be wiser with my selections on who I deal with and how to prepare better. I don't mind small mistakes. And catching them early keeps the big ones at bay. Please don't take for granted someone's patience with you! So learn to play and don't be afraid to fail.

I could list several more, but this post is getting long. To add a few more, persistence despite rough times, doing your own personal projects, constantly looking at other great work, teaching photography, and traveling would be additional elements that definitely aid in my ability to stay locked in on photo. In all these years, photo has never been a dried up concept for me. And you know...another great motivator is that if you're good enough, people will pay you to keep doing what you do. Amazing, isn't it?

17 May 2021

A Mildly Complex View of a Few Things You Can Do LESS of to Get MORE - Update

 

Art Model, Susan ©2013 Terrell Neasley

"It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential." 
 –Bruce Lee
Check this out. I wanna cover a few details of some things of note that I believe can help transform you into a better shooter. It may not make sense right off the bat, but stick with me. I think you will be helped by do LESS of these things:

Ignore TV... Less!
What you see on TV is the final product of someone's content creation efforts. You can learn a plethora of information by observing what images made the final cut. Check out all the lighting schemes, posing, and final edits that you see. How effective do you think they were? What message do they convey and how successful do you feel they were at getting your attention at evoking an emotion in you to act on whatever they were selling, promoting, or entertaining you.

We often times get left in the dust with recent trends. TV gives you an idea of what some of the latest technology is doing and how its being creatively implemented. You succeed when you can begin to backwards engineer what you see. Figure out how its done and get ideas on what techniques or best practices you can employ in your own work. At the very least, you can see what the everyone else is doing and how you might differentiate yourself. Know what's happening around you and do something different. You don't always have to follow what the latest favorite is doing. In fact, I highly recommend it.

Art Model, Susan ©2013 Terrell Neasley


Watch TV... LESS!
All to often, the thing that can hamper us most is Television. We'll have at least 3 TV's in the house to keep us updated on our favorite shows, like the Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, or Dragon Ball Super. People can go nuts over these programs. Sheesh... Back Away From the Idiot Box! I say that in jest, but don't get caught up in TV, too much.

If you can back away from some of the ad-laced content for a while, check out a book on photo for a change. Learn about some new night shooting techniques. Go watch an educational video on Lightroom. There are plenty of free stuff out there, but I'm sure you've heard the old adage... "You get what you pay for". Maybe try a paid subscription service to up your game a little bit. I've always advocated pulling out your camera's manual and familiarizing yourself with features you had no idea existed, right there at your fingertips. And then go practice with it.


Study... LESS!
Here's a new one. Get your head out of the books and go SHOOT! Study long...Study wrong is what my Uncle Sly used to tell me when playing basketball. The more you contemplate your shot, the more likely you're gonna miss it. Never more true. Paralysis by Analysis. There's only so much you can fill your brain with at one time. Most of the time, what you really need is to put the books down and go pick up the camera and just shoot! Experiment. Who learned to ride a bike with a book? What person researched the mechanics of swimming before jumping in the water? Some things you learn by doing.

Yes, some research, study, reading, and observation is good for us. But at some point, you have to put it all down and let your mind and muscles work together with repetition and effort to finally learn something new. Go shoot! I can't emphasis that enough. Studying something too long is a huge contributor to procrastination. I know for fact this is speaking to some of you out there. Its time now to put to practice some of the brilliant things you've learned. Go for it.

Art Model, Susan ©2013 Terrell Neasley


"Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful." 
–John Maeda

Shoot... LESS!
You got that right. Shoot a whole lot less! I've worked with some students that I tell to shoot MORE. The vast majority of you, however, should shoot LESS. This is one case where LESS is truly MORE. The spray and pray concept of photography is only applicable in sports and other jobs where capturing the decisive moment requires advanced anticipation and a fast shutter. Shooting at 14 frames per second to capture the money shot of Russell Wilson escaping the clutches of a NFC West defender showing the look on the guy's face as that split second passes where he KNEW he had the sack, then nothing but air. Yeah...you can't try to time that shot and expect to get anything. No way. You select the drive mode for Hi-Continuous and you roll like Rambo.

When you come back with 30,000 images from a weekend camping trip, just know that you have a problem. Stop friggin' shooting so much! If you want to immediately have an impact on better photography, shoot less! Limit yourself and become more selective about what you are taking a picture of. And there's no need to get 12 versions of the same shot. All you're really looking for are a few good shots that tell the story or deliver the message. Personally, I'm a 10%er. It roughly averages out to editing a tenth of whatever I shoot. I come back from a gig with 300 images...I'm netting about 30 edited shots. I believe I usually shoot about 100 shots an hour when I'm doing constant shooting. That means I'm on a gig or have a photographic purpose in mind and when I'm finished shooting, I go home. So that's different from going on a day trip with my girlfriend and we're on the road for 15 hours. I may only come home with 200 images total because we are shooting, but we're also hiking and exploring and shooting between locations.

Art Model, Susan ©2013 Terrell Neasley


It saves you some time having to cull a million shots, but more importantly, WE DON'T WANT TO, NOR DO WE HAVE TIME TO LOOK AT EVERY-FRIGGIN' SHOT YOU TOOK! So just calm down a bit. Play the roll of a sniper instead of Machine Gun Freddie. Take some time to look at your composition and understand what makes it a good shot vs a snapshot by a tourist. You didn't buy that expensive camera to come back with the same kind of shots you've always been taking. Get to know the camera. Take if off automatic and get creative with it. Shoot less, but maybe more often. How's that for a compromise. Now, you have some things to mull over. Get to it.